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A brand new musical touring the nation is looking to spread female empowerment in a show created by women, with women and for women.

Well, more specifically, for girls. 

"It's not just a slumber party where everyone's braiding each others hair and reading magazines," said Gina Rattan, director of "American Girl Live." "(It's) real girls going to summer camp and facing real challenges and making amazing triumphs throughout their own adventures there." 

"American Girl Live" is touring the country and will be at The Strand Theatre at 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2. Tickets start at $35.75 and can be purchased online at tickets.appellcenter.org

The show is set in the present day at a summer camp and features five original characters. As the campers encounter challenges, American Girl dolls come to life to sing a musical number that helps the camper earn confidence, Rattan said. 

The show was created at the request of the American Girl doll makers, but is intended for all families, she said.

"It's a funny show, it's a lively show, it's not just for owners of American Girl dolls," Rattan said. "It's for people who love stories and want to meet interesting new characters on stage."

The show does have the same spirit and message as the company, she added. 

"What’s really amazing about the American Girls brand is they create and curate experiences specifically for girls, and this show is actually that," she said. 

Rattan knows firsthand the impact American Girls can have on women. She attributes playing with her Molly doll as a huge reason for going into a theater career, she said. 

In addition to directing "American Girl Live," Rattan is the director of the current national tour of "Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella." She's previously worked on Broadway shows, including "Angels in America" and "Matilda the Musical," as well as in television, including on the Live on NBC performances of "Peter Pan" and "The Sound of Music."

Each American Girl doll comes with a story, including biographical information and historical context, adding another level of creativity and imagination to play. 

"I felt like I knew her, and I loved acting out her stories with my friends and their dolls," Rattan said about Molly. 

"It's fun to make a show where a part of my child self can be awakened," she added. 

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Creating the show with an all-female team has also been a great experience and one that isn't all too common, she said.

While working on the show, members of the creative team shared stories about their own experiences at camp and with tight-knit groups of friends, Rattan said. Together, they created a story to impact girls from "the perspective of people who used to be girls," she said. 

And although it's not required, audience members are certainly encouraged to bring their dolls along, Rattan said.

During the show, girls — and dolls — are dancing in the aisles, she said. 

 

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